Sunday, April 11, 2010

Goodbye, Texas Stadium

I didn't get to Texas Stadium often when I was growing up outside of Dallas. In fact, I've probably been there fewer than 10 times. Still, I do have some fond memories of the stadium that came down today in a massive implosion.

Back in 1982, I saw my first (and still only!) live NFL game there, a Dallas loss to Pittsburgh. Sometime before that--I think in 1980 or '81--I saw my first pro soccer game there, a 1-0 win for the Dallas Tornado over the California Surf in the old North American Soccer League. And in 1988, when the Midlothian Panthers, my high school's football team, made the playoffs and managed to advance a round or two, I marched in the band on the Texas Stadium turf. (The football team lost 37-0 to Denison, but it was still fun to see Texas Stadium from the field.)

There was also a great U2 concert in 1992 and an awful Eagles (the band, not the football team) show in 1994. Plus, there were seemingly endless Sunday nights of highlights on the local news after Cowboy games, with those peculiar sideline camera angles that local stations had and that the big networks couldn't reproduce.

Texas Stadium wasn't in great shape, although the despicable Jerry Jones probably could have renovated it rather than fleecing the taxpayers of Arlington (who, to be fair, voted for the tax increase that paid for the stadium...) to build his new palace. Watching the Cowboys play in their new place just puts more emotional distance between me and the team I grew up loving. I'm not shedding a tear over Texas Stadium or anything, but watching it come down put a real exclamation point on the changes--both positive and negative--that the Cowboys have undergone since Jerry took over more than 20 years ago.

And I did kind of hate to see the old place come down because, for me, it was the last link between the modern Cowboys and their predecessors--the teams of Landry, Staubach, Dorsett, "Too Tall" Jones and Randy White that I remember so fondly from childhood. But Coach Landry passed away some years ago, and as Rick Pitino might have said, Tony Dorsett isn't walking through that door...not only because he'd be "old and gray" (in Rick's infamous words) but also because there's no door to walk through anymore. Texas Stadium is gone. A little part of my childhood is gone.

Living in a place that rarely changes all that much makes me all the more sensitive to the fact that Texas is a dynamic place where things change--sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse--all the time. That's another post altogether, but it's odd to me to think that my cousin's kids down in Dallas won't really know anything about Texas Stadium. I guess I'll just have to tell them about it someday.

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